Three Bedrooms in Manhattan
by Georges Simenon, introduction by Joyce Carol Oates, translated from the French by Marc Romano, translated from the French by Lawrence G. Blochman
An actor, recently divorced, at loose ends in New York; a woman, no less lonely, perhaps even more desperate than the man: they meet by chance in an all-night diner and are drawn to each other on the spot. Roaming the city streets, hitting its late-night dives, dropping another coin into yet another jukebox, these two lost souls struggle to understand what it is that has brought them, almost in spite of themselves, together. They are driven—from moment to moment, from bedroom to bedroom—to improvise the most unexpected of love stories, a tale of suspense where risk alone offers salvation.
Georges Simenon was the most popular and prolific of the twentieth century’s great novelists. Three Bedrooms in Manhattan—closely based on the story of his own meeting with his second wife—is his most passionate and revealing work.
Georges Simenon is a recent discovery for me—not the Maigret books, but what Simenon called his "romans durs," such as Dirty Snow and Three Bedrooms in Manhattan— and hard they are indeed. The latest of these New York Review Books reissues, Tropic Moon (translated from the French by Marc Romano) is a dark masterpiece set among French colonials in heart-of-darkness Gabon in the early 1930s. Cruel, erotic, frightening and superb.
— John Banville, The Los Angeles Times
Simenon was immensely admired by both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett...[His novels] compare favourably with the murky grey worlds of James M. Cain, Jim Thompson and Patricia Highsmith with their ambiguous world view of innocents and criminals caught in the whirlpools of fate and struggling to make sense of their existence...Three Bedrooms in Manhattan is one of his most erotic and emotionally charged stories.
— Maxim Jakubowski, The Times (London)
Three Bedrooms in Manhattan is about how we resist love, how we get dragged into it, spat out, dragged back in against our will....Blinking neon blankets the story in an atmosphere of general decay—in life and trust and the merest possibility of love....Simenon takes whatever slender threads he can find in his characters that hold them to life. He shows how relentlessly the mind tries to sabotage the heart.
— Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times